The man behind the curtain: Lecturer reads from his 15,000-comic-book collection on Facebook Live
Apr 17, 2020
With times uncertain and the community in need of joy, an Indiana University Kelley School of Business lecturer found a new use for his 15,000-count comic book collection.
In March, Indiana University business presentations lecturer Trent Deckard started reading portions of the “Wizard of Oz” comic every two nights on his Facebook Live feed.
“I thought, you’re in this room, and you have 15,000 comic books that no one else ever sees,” Deckard said. “What if you were to read a comic book to either children who are home or just adults who want to see me do something silly?”
Deckard got the idea after watching a friend update her situation on Facebook Live. He said that in the worst of situations, he likes to get people to laugh and hopes using the Facebook Live platform will provide entertainment to those stuck at home.
Deckard goes live every two days around 7:30 p.m. His wife, Kyla, holds the camera while he reads the comic book so the audience can clearly see each picture. Deckard even has specific voices he uses to go along with the story.
“The wizard is me taking a coffee mug and speaking into it, so it makes an echo,” he said.
Deckard was given a 2009 copy of “The Wizard of Oz” from Bloomington’s Vintage Phoenix Comics, which he normally visits about once every two to three weeks. He decided to read “Oz” live because it’s the best story for both kids and adults to enjoy.
“I make it a policy if I buy a comic book, I will read that comic book,” Deckard said. “I don’t want to become a reseller and just a person who collects for their value. There was a reason those artists and writers put so much into it years ago.”
Deckard said he loves browsing through older comics. He collects horror, westerns and over-the-top old, romance comics. His favorite comic genre is superheroes because they remind us of who we wanted to be when we grew up.
“I love Captain America, the Avengers and any underdog fighting a big challenge,” he said.
Deckard has loved comics since he was a little boy. He said he struggled with reading, so his family kept exposing him to comic books. Reading comics dramatically improved his reading and led to his hobby of collecting.
Deckard’s basement has one room full of the 15,000 comics he’s collected since childhood. He hosts his Facebook Live stream from a couch in front of shelves lining the room.
Deckard said most of his comics are first edition, but he occasionally buys reprints. His oldest comic dates back to 1930, and the publish dates of his comics go up from there. While he was fortunate to snag some comics before they got too expensive, the most he has paid for one comic was around $800.
His two daughters – Madeline, 8, and Lucy, 5 – are interested in comics too. He said they will occasionally wander around the comic book room, and something will spark their eyes. Sometimes they pick comics that he never thought they would like such as Superman and Supergirl from any era – not just the new stuff.
In addition to teaching business presentations in IU’s Kelley School of Business, Deckard also teaches an eight-week comic book class offered through the Jellison Living Learning Center at the Kelley School. The class focuses on comic book artists and writers and the adversity they faced.
“I’ve never been so rewarded as being a teacher,” Deckard said. “This is my dream job. My heavens, they actually pay me to teach class on comic books and another on communication, and I love it.”
Deckard said that once he wraps up his “Wizard of Oz” reading, the next comic selection is a surprise. He’s not sure how long his Facebook Live trend will go on, but for now, his goal is to spread joy.
“I hope that somewhere it gives somebody a light smile among all this that we’re going through, because we need that,” Deckard said.